Throughout human history, God has always communicated clearly with His people. That’s His way, and that’s how He wants us to communicate as well.
In the very first week of this series, you learned the #1 essential for building your marriage on The Rock:
To build your marriage on The Rock, you must purpose in your heart to do things God’s way, not your own way, and not the world’s way.
So when it comes to communication, you must purpose in your heart to communicate God’s way if you want to build your marriage on The Rock. Doing things your way will always lead to poor communication. And poor communication is like a termite — it can do enormous damage to your marriage.
Good Communication: Why it is Soooo Important
Good communication is the key to what everyone who gets married wants: to be understood. This is one of the deepest needs we have, because to be understood is to feel valued and loved, and everyone wants to grow old in a relationship like that.
But communication is not so much something you do. Communication is really more about the environment you create. Are you creating a positive or a negative environment by the way you communicate?
To help you answer that question and critique your own communication style, I want to share three primary obstacles that will prevent you from creating a positive environment and achieving the intimacy you crave with your mate:
Are you a critical person? Are you prone to putting other people down? Do you often need to find someone to blame for the bad things that happen in your life? All of these will prevent you from creating a positive, safe environment with your mate (and others).
Maybe you’ve been programmed to believe that the only way to be worthy of love is to be perfect, so the only way to be perfect is to be right all the time. If so, then you also believe the lie that says, “The measure of a person’s worth is determined by two things: Never failing and receiving the approval of others.”
The problem with this is way of thinking is that no matter how perfect you try to be or how many people like you, you will fail at one time or the other AND there will always be someone who doesn’t like you.
As a result, you’ll feel like a failure when you haven’t performed well or when someone else doesn’t approve of you. Failing in your eyes equals worthlessness. And because worthlessness is too painful to accept, you’ll look for someone to blame for what you see as failure. You think that by blaming others, you won’t look so bad and that it will somehow protect your fragile sense of self-worth.
If you’re constantly looking for someone to blame for your own imperfections, you’ll create an environment of condemnation and you will never be a “safe” person with whom your husband can share an intimate relationship.
#2: Conditional Love
Intimacy in marriage, verbal or otherwise, cannot be built upon a foundation of conditional love. If you or your husband have never experienced unconditional love, you may look good on the outside, but on the inside you have a hurt that just won’t go away. One or both of you will pass that hurt onto the other, because hurting people hurt people.
God’s way is for marriage to be an instrument of growth and development in your life, but nowhere are difficulties with interpersonal relationships more exposed than in marriage. You see, marriage doesn’t cause our problems; it reveals our problems. Pressure will always introduce you to yourself, and to what’s really on the inside.
The foundations of all your interpersonal relationships are laid during your childhood. The four most basic concepts of life which grow out of the relationships you experience during these developmental years are your concepts of self, others, life and, most importantly, God.
People who have never known what it means to be loved unconditionally are more likely to struggle with feelings of guilt, self-condemnation, worthlessness, low-self esteem, emptiness, anger, anxiety, irrational fears, resentment, rage, depression, and excessive mood-swings. These are the people who have such difficulty accepting God’s unconditional love.
The home from which you came either helped or hindered you in your interpersonal relationships. Wrong concepts can be overcome, but you must first be willing to recognize and admit you have a problem in this area before you can be helped, and find healing. Once again, this is going to involve doing things God’s way. Not “conforming to the world’s way of thinking but being transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Hurt will happen in relationships — that’s a fact of life. To be human is to get hurt, and the only way those hurts can be healed is through forgiveness. If you don’t understand and practice scriptural forgiveness, you’ll never have a marriage built on The Rock, because forgiveness is one of the most important and basic ways of God.
If you mistakenly believe that forgiveness is a feeling, you must understand that it is not. Forgiveness is an act of your will — an act of obedience. Forgiveness is giving up your right to get even. It’s making a decision not to hold on to your anger, hurt, or negative emotions.
Perhaps you have a problem with forgiveness because you believe forgiving means you are excusing your husband’s behavior. If so, you need to know that nothing could be further from the truth. Forgiveness is acknowledging that what was done was wrong and inexcusable, but choosing to show someone else the same kind of forgiveness God showed you.
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and FORGIVE whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as God forgave you.” Forgiving is not a suggestion, it is a commandment, and God gives it for your own well-being.
When you have been offended, you experience the pain of the offense when it happens. But the initial pain of the wrong done to you is usually small, compared to the pain of reliving the offense over and over again in your mind. Unforgiveness is like a tape recorder that rewinds and plays the hurtful experience again and again.
God knows that unforgiveness is also the soil in which bitterness will grow in your life. Bitterness is a poisonous plant with deadly fruit like depression, anger, hostility, resentment, rage, physical, mental and emotional disorders, and the inability to love and trust others.
Bitterness can make you extremely vulnerable to unwise decisions and destructive patterns of living. It is like a cancer of the soul that will go on to destroy you physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
The forgiveness that Jesus offers is unconditional and complete. You didn’t deserve it and He provided it for you before you ever asked for it or even knew you needed it. That is exactly the kind of forgiveness that must be active in your marriage if you are going to have a “safe” relationship and achieve the kind of intimacy that will enable you to communicate with your spouse in a fulfilling and satisfying way.
Ephesians 4:32 should be a life verse for every marriage: “Be kind to one another, forgiving one another, just as Christ, God, has forgiven you.” I love what Laurie’s husband, Bill, says, “When you do bad, own it. When you’ve had bad done to you, forgive it.”
Communication: The Bottom Line
You can become a good communicator. Begin by repenting and removing the obstacles of criticism, conditional love, and unforgiveness from you life. Commit to creating a positive environment where a safe relationship and intimacy can grow. Memorize and make Ephesians 4:29 your goal for every word you speak: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
To build a marriage on The Rock, you must purpose in your heart to do things God’s way — not your own way, and not the world’s way. This means you will learn the art of good communication by never being critical, loving unconditionally, and forgiving much and often.
Susan Gadd is a wife, mom, grandmother, and Bible teacher. She and her opposites-attract husband Emory have been married 47 years, and they have enjoyed teaching and mentoring hundreds of couples for over 25 years at Sagemont Church in Houston, Texas.
Copyright © 2013. Susan Gadd.
All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Got a marriage question for Susan and Laurie? Post it below as a comment. If we receive enough questions, we may do a Marriage on The Rock Q&A episode . . . or two or three. Thanks!